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Transpartisan Review Blog #39

transpartisan aca

Transpartisan Health Within Reach?

by A. Lawrence Chickering and James S. Turner

Through the smoldering ruins of the most recent healthcare financing reform effort we see the faint outlines of a transpartisan approach to health care.

Former President Barack Obama issued a statement on the 7th anniversary of passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), one day before current Congressional Republicans pulled their proposed ACA ‘repeal and replace’ bill from the House floor.

The former president laid out the accomplishments he saw from the ACA and recognized the need for change, saying:

I’ve always said we should build on this law, just as Americans of both parties worked to improve Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid over the years. . . . But we should start from the baseline that any changes will make our health care system better, not worse for hardworking Americans. That should always be our priority.

In assessing the failure of his own bill President Trump said:

Look, we got no Democratic votes.  We got none, zero.

The plan Trump campaigned for, and for which his supporters voted, included affordable ‘insurance for everybody’ and a ‘demand‘ that drug companies negotiate directly with Medicare and Medicaid and lower their prices, saying they will no longer be ‘politically protected.’

After his health care financing failure, House Speaker Paul Ryan said we need to learn ‘what we could have done to do it better’. Ohio Governor John Kasich, the last Donald Trump primary opponent, said ‘Trump needs to work with Democrats on health care.’ Senator Bernie Sanders asked the President to consider pending Senate legislation lifting the ban on federal health programs negotiating drug prices.

White House: Trump is serious about working with Democrats’, writes The Hill. ‘Republicans and Democrats need to work together on healthcare,’ says Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC). Maine Republican Senator Susan Collins, after opposing the House bill, urged Democrats and Republicans to work together on health. Bipartisan serves as word of the day. We see transpartisan—bipartisan expanded—more likely to work than bipartisan alone.

By transpartisan we mean recognizing the tension in both parties between members seeking order—the leadership, the establishment, the elite—and the agitators for freedom—the freedom caucus, Bernie Sanders, and, in his populist guise, President Trump. To us transpartisan means a sound health plan incorporating interests from all four quadrants—free right and left and order right and left.  See the Transpartisan Matrix.

Large numbers, probably well over fifty percent, of Americans use complementary, alternative, integrative, natural healing—paying billions for nutrition, chiropractic, massage therapy, acupuncture, and over 100 other recognized health modalities—as part or all of their personal health promotion efforts. Virtually none of these health approaches formally appears in the current health care financing system of government and insurance company payments for drugs, surgery, radiation and diagnostics.

We believe the absence of the voice of these consumers from the health financing debate accounts for a significant amount of the dissatisfaction with both the ACA and its offered replacement.  Too many voices not heard.

These numbers track voter turnout for the 2016 presidential election. President Trump is a minority president. The vast majority of eligible voters did not vote for Trump—66 million voted for Clinton and 90 million stayed home, 63 million voted for Trump. This need not be a crippling factor. Thomas Jefferson squeaked into the White House after a tied Electoral College vote and 36 Congressional ballots and went on to have a consequential presidency.

We think a transpartisan process will strengthen any policy deliberation. Non-voters affect daily politics. Office holders write them off at their peril. At a minimum, current office holders need to consider how their actions might provoke previous sideliners to vote and how. We think this form of ‘survival anticipation’ played a key role in the failure of the ACA replacement.

The health financing bill failed to integrate the interests of the four quadrants—liberal and progressive Democrats and order and freedom Republicans—and, for that reason, we suggest, failed to become law. When the four quadrant interests integrate the natural healing community and other underrepresented populations into the health care financing discussion, the nation will take the next steps toward a workable—and we would say transpartisan—national health policy.

Through the haze we see the outlines.

(The above image is the work of the U.S. federal government and in the public domain.)

Transpartisan Review Blog #38

Our friend and colleague Steven P. Cohen, scholar, spiritual leader, and transpartisan activist, passed away at the age of 71 at his home in Teaneck, NJ, on January 25, 2017. For three decades Steve was the “silent broker” of peace talks in the Middle East—”the lone guerilla warrior of peace,” one Israeli politician called him.

Transpartisan Review Blog #36


Oscar’s Transpartisan Moment

by A. Lawrence Chickering and James S. Turner

And the Academy Award [Beatty hesitates] for Best Picture ‘. . . La La Land . . .’  The marvelous Faye Dunaway delivered, likely, the most memorable words, ‘La La Land’,  of her nearly sixty years of memorable performances.

Her escort for the moment, the hesitating Warren Beatty, stared transfixed like a deer in headlights or a passenger on a bus watching two cars careen in slow motion toward an inevitable crash.

For about a minute and a half La La Land producers Jordan Horowitz, Marc Platt, and Fred Berger, delivered uplifting thanks for the recognition of their achievement by the Academy.

Then Horowitz said ‘What? You guys, I’m sorry, no. There’s a mistake. Moonlight, you guys won Best Picture.’ He said, ‘I’m going to be really proud to hand this to my friends from Moonlight.’  You can read the transcript.

Adele Romanski, a Moonlight producer said, ‘It is so humbling to be standing up here with, hopefully, still the La La crew? No, O.K., they’re gone, but it’s very humbling to be up here.’

Host Jimmy Kimmel said, ‘Why can’t we just give out a whole bunch of them?’

New York Times film Critic A. O. Scott captured the moment’s essence. ‘The envelope mix-up was painful, but it brought to the stage two directors in their 30s with five features between them and reminded the audience that Damien Chazelle (La La Land director) and Barry Jenkins (Moonlight director) are not enemies.

The grace with which the La La Land producers (Jordan Horowitz, in particular) handled the handoff — and the poise with which Mr. Jenkins and his producer, Adele Romanski, received the belated honor for Moonlight — should quell the facile polarization that followed the two movies throughout the awards season.

Quell facile polarization. That states the transpartisan promise. Leading up to the Oscar mix-up-moment, partisans of each picture struggled, argued, fought for and against the movies’ two quite different pictures of America.

After the moment, recrimination and retaliation took up a lot of the time, energy and human resources spent reacting to the event. At its core the Oscar mix-up reminds us that more than controversy exists between even fierce partisans.

Oscar’s transpartisan moment points toward broadening our political discourse to include the aspirations of the 50 to 70% of Americans alienated (somewhat too strongly) from our politics. Each event contains the possibility of more than conflict.

Image courtesy of Rayukk and licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license.

EMFs, Risks, Not Enough to Stop 5G Network

The FCC’s proposed regulations would allow widespread and rapid deployment of a “5G” network under a proposed “streamlining” of the siting process. Not only is the justification of deployment weak, there are many reasons that large scale “streamlined” (minimal government oversight, especially at the state level) and rapid deployment is a very bad idea.

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Transpartisan Review Blog #33

Transpartisan UN

Glimpses of a Transpartisan Foreign Policy

by A. Lawrence Chickering and James S. Turner

U.S. policy experts widely believe that the world order requires strong American engagement. When American engagement becomes weak or uncertain, the order weakens, and aggression and disorder start to become visible and grow.

The Cold War underscored this belief. ‘Containment’ of Soviet expansion won bipartisan support and dominated U.S. policy until the early 1990s, when the Cold War ended. 9/11 revealed new security concerns coming from radical Islamists in the tribal societies of the larger Middle East. Radical, tribal, and transnational forces (outside established national boundaries in pursuit of non- or anti- state objectives) presented, and continue to present, new challenges. No bipartisan policy has emerged to address this new global reality. Very small non-state actors can undermine a nation’s security, both perceived and actual.

Large-scale military initiatives, in Afghanistan and Iraq, clearly failed to solve the problem. Persistent resistance in those countries reminded people of Vietnam. The failure of bipartisan consensus on ensuring global security in this new world of ‘weak states’ leaves the question: How to sustain U.S. engagement in the world order without over-reaching military initiatives?

Under pressure from the Afghan and Iraqi governments and people, President Bush set in motion reducing and President Obama reduced the military commitment to those countries. ISIS stepped into the vacuum, and the self-proclaimed Caliphate created a bloodbath. In Syria, President Obama drew a red line in the sand and then ignored it, successfully eliminating Assad’s chemical weapons program but failing to depose Assad. Russia stepped into the vacuum, and Syria became a bloodbath. For more detail, see Politico.

We think the bloodbaths are flowing, largely, because there is no longer any coherent American presence engaging the underlying forces shaping the world that is emerging. This world is balkanized by persisting sub-group loyalties that retard development of strong nation-states.

Obama seemed to be disengaging America from the global order, and Trump — questioning NATO, withdrawing from trade agreements, and repeating his commitment to America first — seems to be continuing that policy. The world wants America to sustain its global engagement without an unsustainable military presence. We need dialogue and debate on a sustainable policy. We see two potential possibilities for new, sustainable engagement.

One focus is military. If and how we deploy permanent military forces in key strategic locations — as we now do in Europe and in South Korea — is one possible commitment to explore that could play an important role in a new engagement, maintaining order. It is especially true in the larger Middle East. Egypt and Afghanistan are possible venues for this. We need a transpartisan — and bi-partisan — debate about this.

A second focus is civic: a strategy for empowering citizens to resist insurgents that threaten them. The key to empowerment, as the work of Hernando De Soto argues in the first issue of The Transpartisan Review, is ownership (see Fighting Terrorism By Empowering The Poor). De Soto’s work shows that when ownership is made formal, citizens will have a stake in societies for the first time, and they will protect what they own from insurgents. (This belief is widely observed even in the regions threatened by radical Islam.)

In developing new security policy we think it is important to consider expanding De Soto’s ownership concept from peasant land to schools, wells, hospitals, and other community ‘properties’. Strategies for this will likely require active participation of civil society organizations, from both left and the right, that are committed to both order and freedom. This is a large, but essential, transpartisan issue, on both foreign and domestic agendas, whose outlines can be glimpsed in current policy tensions and struggles.

For an additional look at transpartisan foreign policy, please read A Policy Of Conflict, Competition & Cooperation by Charles Hauss which appeared in our first issue of The Transpartisan Review.

(Photo by Eferante and licensed CC BY 3.0.)

Transpartisan Review Blog #31

“I have a running war with the media. They’re scum. They are horrible people. . . . [T]he media is the opposition party in many ways,” Trump says of the media. “You are a liar,” the media says of Trump. More eyeballs watched each. The attention boosted the ratings of both. We think they often speak different languages.